Data driven DDs in Build to Rent

Data driven DDs in Build to Rent – why real estate investors “need” them?

 

In 2016, one of the largest American Private Equity buyout funds was looking to fund a large Multi Family / Build to Rent Scheme in the Hillingdon borough of London. The investment sounded quite attractive on paper as it included a juicy IRR% delivery roadmap led by a renowned London based entrepreneur and a solid team. Being new to the sector, the fund started looking around for data on rentals, some benchmarks or comps data to ensure they can write the $200m+ cheque. They spoke to some of the largest estate agencies who seemed to not be geared to be collecting any kind of data. Next, they spoke to the portals and software companies who provided some data – however these datasets were either too generic or not actionable and needed further data stitching, analysis and then presentation in a way that was useful to the investment committee. They then also spoke to some of the referencing companies, who either couldn’t share any data due to protection laws, or their data was again quite high level.

Saurabh’s journey

Incidentally, over a drink one of the directors at the fund spoke to his friend Saurabh, a senior Private Equity executive who had been building a data driven real estate transactions business called “Houzen”, alongside his day job. Through his day job, Saurabh had recently advised a large PE fund on a potential $2b+ investment opportunity into a Western European real estate agency leader, and was fresh off a due diligence into the sector. Saurabh offered to help his friend at the fund, collected some bottom-up data on the local market and presented back to the fund’s director and their Investment Committee – eventually they did not invest.

The issues in BTR die dilligence that need fixing right now

“Due Diligence in real estate has long been a ‘finger in the air’ assumption on another assumption exercise. Due to lack of data aggregation, the residential real estate industry has found comfort with several limitations in the investment cycle” Saxena says. Firstly, the industry actors who are typically custodians of the customer and asset data have not collected the data digitally and at best, have stored it in paper files for decades. Secondly, the industry is so fragmented that even if actors did collect the data, it would need to be stitched together to make investment decisions. Thirdly, all the data that exists today is typically around assets, and very rarely on tenants needs, requirements and willingness to pay. This essentially means that the supply side data is fragmented, incomplete and not voluminous and the demand side i.e. customer side data doesn’t exist. Due to these systemic issues, the entire industry has been making decisions based on assumptions. However, the LP needs are changing now. The UK BTR opportunity is real and well established in the minds and IC’s of LPs, however they demand justification. LPs are custodians of public or tax payers money hence they are transparency oriented to reduce their own decision making risk. Several operators today complain that fundraising with LPs is not easy and they are not loosening their purse strings as much as the BTR hype seems to be. The reason is obvious – would we invest even $100 of our hard earned money on promises and not proof?

And the rest is history

Saurabh went on to quit his day job, and built houzen as the fastest leasing engine for the BTR sector. Today, houzen works with 7 of the top 10 BTR operators and investors and includes Invesco, Kennedy Wilson, Greystar, Grainger, Wellcome Trust, A2Dominion et al as it’s clients, and is based out of Singapore and India, and soon China. Interestingly, Saurabh’s entire pre-MBA experience was in the field of advanced statistics which in today’s speak, is called AI. That experience came in quite handy when the backend AI engine of houzen was built. From day one, all the data which came into their platform was not just collected, but the algorithms started learning and started making sense of the assets and tenant matching equations. In 2019, houzen was requested by a number of private equity funds, state owned companies, large BTR lenders and operators to share their data in order to make go/no-go investment decisions on whether they should buy an asset or not, if a certain borough or location is the right one to invest, develop or operate in based on their strategic KPIs. In addition, they would regularly ask houzen to help underwrite rents and their asset management strategy.

Smart Due Diligence with houzen – now available

Houzen has now launched a new service called Smart DD”, which helps in connecting the dots between assets and potential tenants, potential revenue and operational cost flows. Further it delivers high quality consulting style reports on leasing velocity, asset management strategy, rent appraisals, buy make or partner decisions, IRR and revenue enhancement strategy and execution, asset turnarounds, and BTR operating model strategies.

The team at houzen is obsessed with the topics Build To Rent sector participants are continuing to solve for, and believes that through an intelligent data and tech infrastructure coupled with a finance and execution mindset will help make the industry more intelligent and investment decisions more predictable.

 
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

 

And in Singapore

Found8 Anson

79 Anson Road, #23-01

Singapore 079906 

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

 

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

 

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here's a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running:
 
  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!
 
To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together.
 
Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

Is COVID-19 affecting your business?

Is COVID-19 affecting your business?

Business as usual?
 
With the official number of those infected with COVID-19 grows larger day by day, many businesses are being forced to change the way they operate. Across the globe, sports events are being cancelled, airports are empty and there is a shortage of basic supplies in many cities. The news agenda for the past few weeks is dominated by the effect on businesses and the global economy as a whole.
 
With the UK government doing their best to avoid panic, business is trying to continue as usual. Yet, many people are choosing to work from home and many are avoiding public transport. To combat this, many businesses are preparing for a work from home scenario, ensuring that employees have the resources to do so. In real estate, the entire business depends on viewings taking place in person. So how can you manage the risk? 
 
How do you continue running viewings and closing deals if people are worried to leave their home? First and foremost you do the following:
  • Utilise 3-D tours or video tours of the property
  • Ensure that the pictures of the property are taken from every angle
 
What is the opportunity present?
 
The opportunity present is that this is a great time to engage with your existing customers and potential customers. How do you do this? 
 
Reassure existing landlords and tenants
  • Use this as a time to re-engage with your landlords and tenants and assure them that business will run as usual
  • Your landlords need to know that you will find innovative ways to ensure that their properties will still close
  • Have a follow-up call with your clients to help further foster your relationship with them
 
Shift your advertising focus
  • Do not follow your instinct to stop all advertising until consumer confidence has returned.
  • Rather than pausing all your ad campaigns, consider reallocating the budget
  • Why? We know that there is an increased number of employees being encouraged to work from home. With more people working from home and avoiding the outdoors, more time will be spent in front of a screen (be that a computer screen or a smartphone). It would be a waste not to keep your brand awareness campaigns active during this time.
 
Use your CRM

Your database is the most valuable asset you have. Use this time to utilise leads and tenants that are already in your database and remind them of your brand, and your USP. Follow-up with them and see if they’re still looking for a home and send them properties that match their requirements. Utilise the 3-D tours or video tours to allow these applicants to view properties without having to leave their homes.

 
Use XChange

At XChange, we make it easy to monetise your existing leads. By using our tech you can take your existing leads and find properties that match their given requirements, automatically. Not only that, but a lot of our properties also have 3-D tours or video tours of the property! Meaning, all you need is a computer, an applicant and you’re ready to start closing deals! It’s as simple as that.
 
 
Step up Your Internal Communication

Remember that your internal communication strategy is just as important as your external one. The property industry is a networking industry. People-contact is inevitable. Considering the current circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak, you need to setup methods to ensure that your team can communicate with other members as well as their clients without compromising their safety. 

Overall, the hope is that COVID-19 will be contained and life will get back to normal soon. 

On behalf of XChange, we’re here to help!
 
Here’s some need to know information
 
How COVID-19 is spread
From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres or less) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
 
Respiratory secretions produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes containing the virus are most likely to be the main means of transmission.
 
There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:
  • infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
  • it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching a doorknob or shaking hands then touching own face)
There is currently little evidence that people who are without symptoms are infectious to others.
 
Preventing spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environments.
 
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

Is Rightmove Bleeding you dry?

Is Rightmove Bleeding you dry?

Agents new and old, know that online listing portals like Rightmove and Zoopla are the only way to source leads for properties. Year on year the cost of these portals continues to increase. Making the portals more profitable while making it harder for the more local agencies to keep up. The question arises is whether it is workable to continue using these services. Are there are any other alternatives that provide the same results. Is it becoming a necessary evil where the cost is becoming greater than the given outcome? 

 
Lee Wainwright, the former CEO of Purplebricks, a veteran in the real estate industry, says, that there is no alternative to Rightmove.  This is because the portal has “won consumer’s expectations” when it comes to a property listing. Even stating that “there is no alternative…there is no choice”. 
 
Arguably, the relationship isn’t an abusive one. Industries have always faced competitive prices and Rightmove is no different. If Rightmove wasn’t charging that amount, someone else would. Though many agents in the industry still argue that the relationship is becoming more and more disconnected.  Leading agents to move towards developing their digital presence. Moving towards digital advertising to push their properties and generate leads.
 
Developing a digital presence maintains their brand and allows differentiation from others. Where Rightmove strips the agency brand, social media allows them to drive traffic to the agency. Yet, the benefits of digital aside, property landlords are conditioned to feel that Rightmove is a must-have. If an Agent doesn’t have Rightmove, then the agent is not in a strong position to close their property. So what are the alternatives? 
 
The alternatives? 

Try other portals

  • There are many other portals out there, OnTheMarket, Zoopla SpareRoom and the works
  • Of course, these come with lower but similar price points – making these alternatives just as expensive

Develop your brand on Social Media

  • By developing your brand on social media you’re differentiating yourself from the competition

Monetise your open applicants

  • Tap into your CRM and find similar properties to the one you already closed. Rather than getting more leads from Rightmove, utilise the leads already in your system.
  • Not only is your cost of acquisition not wasted, but you also build your brand as one that finds the properties your applicant wants!
  • This is where XChange can help. 
 
How can XChange help?
 
On average, for each property listed, you receive about 10 leads. Out of these 10 leads, 1 closes a deal on the property and the other 9 are still looking for a property. So what do you do with these leads? Many agencies tend to leave unmatched leads in the CRM.  They try to keep them engaged through periodic emails that vaguely fit their requirements. This leads to lower engagement rates and usually wasted applicants, or wasted opportunities. 
 
Our applicant matching solution works to find you more properties for applicants that are sitting in your CRM, or vice versa. By inputting your applicant’s requirements we can match them to properties listed on our platform. This works if you have a property that is difficult to move. We can connect you to estate agents that have applicants that they need to place. Our goal is to create a platform where Independent Agents can continue to grow their businesses and we provide them the resources to be able to achieve that without needing to hire a large team.
 

We partner with Independent Agents and growing agencies because we believe that compared to the bigger corporations, you have the ability to close deals faster and provide the leads with better customer service than premium corporate agencies can provide.

Want to get started? See if your Agency qualifies. Contact us through this form below and we’ll give you a call.

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

How the government is pushing landlords towards short-lets

How the government is pushing landlords towards short-lets

XChange has a partnership with Hostmaker, a company providing end-to-end short-let management. 
 
In recent years, the government has been placing severe measures on buy-to-let investors. This is to discourage them from considering residential property as an investment. The hope was to reduce the pressure on house prices and free stock for owner-occupiers. The most prominent of these measures is the phased reductions in tax relief on buy-to-let mortgages introduced in 2017.
 
Due to this, half a million rented homes could be taken away from tenants and moved towards the holiday lettings sector states the Telegraph*.
 
This is because, from April, landlords will no longer be able to offset their mortgage costs from their tax bills. Those who have holiday rentals, will. Especially if these properties are in cities where there is a high demand for short-lets. These properties offer higher returns than the traditional long-term rental market. They also give the added flexibility for the landlords.
 
As a result, 2.7% of landlords have moved their properties out of the private rental property sector (according to a report by letting agent body ARLA Propertymark and Capital Economic). Though a small percentage, this equates to 46,000 homes no longer being available to the long term rental market.
 
As the supply levels for private rental properties falls, the rentals continue to increase. According to Rightmove, rents increased by 2.4% across the UK. The more rental stock removed from the market the more this is expected to increase.
 
Though the holiday short-let industry is profitable for many people, it is not suitable for every landlord. There is a lot of work involved in setting up and running a short-let property.
 

Potential revenue opportunity for your agency

 
To meet this demand, there are many new businesses that are targeting landlords that need help managing their short-let properties. One of which is Hostmaker, a business that gets your property ready to be listed as a short-let as well as helping find and manage leads for said property. In the past 4 years, the number of Airbnb UK listings has gone up four times according to the ARLA report. This is an increase from 18,000 units in 2015 to 77,000 units in 2019.
 
The general consensus is that this trend will continue to rise as the market is quite lucrative. What’s interesting to note is how short-lets are concentrated in places where prices are already more inflated. Thus putting more pressure on affordability.
graph of ST & LT supply levels in the UK
 
For example:
 
  • In Havering (East London) average house prices are £361,970 and only 0.2% of property stock is listed on Airbnb.
 
  • Compared to Westminster, where average house prices are £946,430, that share is 6.7%.
 
 
As short-lets become popular it’s important to keep an eye out on the growth and find ways to support your landlords if they decide to make the switch. At XChange, we understand that though the appeal for short-lets is high, the work involved is even greater. This is why we have partnered with Hostmaker to make it easier for independent agencies to meet the short-let demand. By partnering with us, we provide the tools and support needed to grow your business.
 

So where do you go from here

Earlier in 2019, Tfl banned short-let advertising in the tube, claiming that those ads were offensive and were sending the wrong message. This makes the market lucrative but not without hurdles to overcome. This is where we can come in. If you’re finding it difficult to service your existing short-let landlords, we believe that we can help. 
  
At XChange, our goal is to empower Independent agents in growing their businesses. By providing them with the support and tools that they need to further make an impact in their local market.
 
Looking for some more guidance? Get in touch and one of our advisors will help you get started.
 
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

*All statistics obtained in this article are from the Telegraph’s article which can be seen here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/buy-to-let/governments-attack-buy-to-let-landlords-has-completely-backfired/

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

Calculate how much revenue is wasted per property! [FREE CALCULATOR]

Xchange blog header

Calculate how much revenue is wasted per property! [FREE CALCULATOR]

Time can either be your friend or your enemy. A friend when invested correctly and an enemy where there is little to no return on time spent. This is also dependent on the size of the transaction you are working on.

Time spent pursuing activities that are have smaller returns is time that could be invested in larger opportunities. To grow as a business it is important to invest time in things that make a difference. The goal should always be that every activity should take you closer to your business goals.

Download your free calculator below

Wasted time on small opportunities

Just because a service or client counts as a small opportunity doesn’t mean it is not worth the time. Often times smaller opportunities can lead to lasting relationships and eventually become a stable revenue source. This doesn’t mean smaller opportunities are ignored, but rather, is more about deciding which ones are worth it. Even if it is a somewhat easier service, it still takes time. The time that could have been spent closing a bigger deal. Time is, unfortunately, something that once spent, cannot be recovered.

Why is time wasted on these small opportunities? This is because this is a live opportunity that needs action then and there. This helps keep the pipeline alive and show activity. This provides us with a sense of security that business is going as usual. This makes agents busy and takes away from time that could have been spent prospecting or nurturing existing clients.

 

estate agent looking at graphs

 

So how do we go about this?

Take a look at how many services you provide for one rental property over a 12-month period. Evaluate the related time spent executing these services along with the cost of staff associated with each activity. Combining these two you can work out your Return on Time Invested (ROTI).

This includes everything from:

  • The initial rental valuation
  • The pre-tenancy administration
  • ongoing monthly property management
  • Any renewals and/or check-out.

The template downloadable below can help you work out what your Return on Time Invested would be. This is calculated by the average annual income of one rental property compared to how much it costs for you to deliver all these services. You can use this template for several different scenarios that suit your business.

Results

Things to keep in mind are that there will always be certain things that are unavoidable and not every minute can result in financial return. However, the benefit of this exercise is that it helps you work out your Return on Time Invested to see the following:

  • Which activities are the most time-consuming and working out ways on how to optimise these activities
  • The tangible costs your business has to take per service that you deliver
  • What the annual cost of servicing one property is
  • Identifying points where the extra charges are justified. Also looking for opportunities where you need to streamline the processes further.

How to improve your Return on Time Invested

So how do you work on improving your Return on Time Invested? First things first, rank each service based on importance.

In sales and letting, the most productive investment of your time is time invested on the phone with potential or existing customers. Sales calls are important in finding new opportunities and nurturing existing clients. These activities produce a high return on investment. Other activities include time spent with the team that delivers for your clients, time spent nurturing relationships, and time spent prospecting.

You can’t spend every minute on high return on time invested activities. But you can improve the amount of time there.

estate agent handing keys | XChange

Case Study

Take Lisa for example. Lisa is a letting manager at her agency L&S estate agents. She found that even though her negotiators were getting many leads, and were many viewings per day, she found that her negotiators just were not able to keep on top of everything and that lead to targets not being met. So Lisa set out to figure out what her negotiators were spending the most time on. After some thorough research, she noticed that negotiators were spending a lot of time on viewings. What she soon realized was that a lot of the time was wasted waiting for the applicants to show up to the viewing.

On average, every week the negotiators wasted about 2.5 hours waiting for their leads to come to the viewings. About 30% of these applicants actually came back and rescheduled a viewing, the other 70% did not. Across her 4 negotiators, this meant 10 hours of wasted time. That was an entire days work being wasted waiting on applicants that 70% of the time were not going to turn up.

What the negotiators and Lisa didn’t understand was that the time that was being spent waiting for these applicants could have been spent following up with more interested applicants. Valuable hours were being wasted which lowered the Return on Time Invested by almost 15%. By working on implementing basic changes Lisa was able to turn this around and ensure that her negotiators were making the most of their time and thus generating more revenue for the business.

At XChange, we help independent agents like Lisa grow their businesses by giving them the resources to compete with the Big 6. We connect them to the premium properties that are usually reserved for the Big 6 agencies. We work with local agents because we believe that they have the power to find homes for their customers better and faster than the competition. We know that if given a better source of properties, agents can outperform the bigger agents.

Want to get in touch? Send us an email or give us a call. 

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

5 mistakes you’re making on a sales call – and how to fix it!

Mistakes made when calling | Xchange

5 mistakes you’re making on a sales call – and how to fix it!

Suboptimal call handling methods can hamper the growth, reputation and profitability of Agencies. These mistakes are easy to fix yet many agencies continue to fall into this trap as the business grows. These mistakes can lead to severe consequences for agencies and may lead to lost customers. Here’s what you could be doing wrong and how to fix it

1) Endless ringing with long wait times

Nowadays individuals place phone calls to speed up how fast they get information. Answering calls quickly ensures that a customer chooses your agency over your competitors. Speed is a key factor in the decision-making process. Agencies that have a higher response time, are more likely to lose leads as they may drop the call halfway.

69% of callers won’t leave a voicemail, according to data. This means that unanswered calls turn into lost opportunities and frustrated customers.

To drive customer confidence, answering calls faster and minimizing wait time is important. This instils a feeling that their inquiry is valued and that someone will in fact help them A customer waiting on a call |XChange

2) Monotonous Receptionists

Remember, at the end of the day, people buy from people. Especially in the real estate industry. It is important that your call handlers or admin executives are not scripted on the call. Their personality needs to shine through and the customer needs to feel like they’re talking to a friend.

Things like smiling on the phone can make a real difference. It comes across as more engaging and friendly. Having a pleasant conversation with callers makes a big difference and leaves a good impression of the agency

3) Poor organisational knowledge

A call to an agency should be a seamless process. It starts with the technical side, the call-handlers should know how to transfer calls quickly. It is important that they have with the resources to answer any questions that the customer may have.  This could be through access to shared diaries, holiday rotas and up to date employee lists. They must have the information they need to be effective and helpful.

4) Unreturned Calls

First impressions are important. Taking a message is one thing but following-up is just as important. One of the biggest mistakes an agency can make is forgetting to call back an interested customer. This could ruin any potential for new business opportunities.

Applicants expect a response to their call within a suitable amount of time. A mechanism to effectively and accurately pass messages to employees should be in place to ensure that customers are not lost in the process.

5) Answering Machine post 6:00 pm

Applicant’s hate voicemail. When a call gets redirected to voicemail at exactly 6:01 pm this becomes a source of frustration for potential customers. In the age of 24/7 communication, this becomes even more frustrating if they can’t reach organisations when it suits them.

Investing in telephone answering support can help. It ensures that more enquiries are handled and captured, regardless of the time.

Post it note stating Leave a Voicemail | XChange

Independent agencies making improvements to increase efficiency and customer care must focus on their internal system. Setting specific standards and maximising technology all can help boost the end-customer experience.

Standardising call handling lets agents maximise their calls and boost their conversions. With support, telephone communication is still a vital tool to improve customer experience. This can help drive revenue and to give agencies an edge over their competitors.

If you’re looking at improving customer experience further, take a look at how you can you can improve your communication with your leads.

At XChange by houzen, we know that independent agents hold the power to engage with their tenants better. Yet most new developments are given only to the Big 6. We know that if given a better source of properties, agents can outperform the bigger agents.

We’re on a mission to work with Independent Agents to give them the tools to work efficiently in this industry. The real estate industry hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years, and this is a problem. We have partnered with Independent Agents to empower them and to provide the resources that they need to be successful. We know that they can compete head-on with the Big 6 agencies in the market. 


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »

4 ways to better communicate with your leads

Improve Communication - Xchange

4 ways to better communicate with your leads

Technology is evolving fast as is the way individuals communicate with each other. It’s getting easier and faster to communicate with your users in the present age. This is drastically different from how we communicated even 10 years ago. This has had an effect on agents and how they communicate with their end-users. This is likely to keep changing throughout the decade.

Customers are moving towards communication channels that provide quicker responses. Communicating based on their availability, which is why digital works better for them. To meet these requirements, it’s important to adapt to keep these applicants engaged.

An Increased number of applicants prefer to communicate via WhatsApp or Live Chat. On average more than half a billion people worldwide use the service. The average user checks the service more than 23 times per day. Yet, agents rarely use it and stick to calls and emails.

There will always be a need for a human touch in the residential real estate industry. It is more about incorporating modern communication channels with traditional methods.

4 ways you can do to adapt to these changes and to better engage with your applicants.

  • Introduce Live Chats on your website

Now more than ever it is easy to equip your website with a Live Chat option. This allows your customer support team to assist customers in navigating your website. Customers want answers to their questions in the fastest way possible, often without having to talk to anyone. 

black board with live chat | XChange

  • Use Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct Messages

Like Live Chat, Facebook and Instagram allow applicants to communicate with you. This is an opportunity to get to know more about your customers and the type of properties they are looking for. Not only can you understand your applicant better, but you can increase the probability of closure.

Facebook direct messenger | XChange

  • Don’t be afraid to communicate via WhatsApp

Once a customer is interested in a property that you have to offer coordinating timing and details for viewings can easily be managed via WhatsApp, provided ofcourse that the applicant has consented to be contacted on WhatsApp. Providing a personal touch shows applicants that you care about finding them their new home.

WhatsApp chat | XChange

  • Use your social media and engage with your customers

Individuals spend more and more time on social media and here is where you can attract and engage your applicants. Post engaging and relevant content can help with brand awareness and develop trust between with your applicants.

a user typing with social media icons | XChange

Some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Respond to the customer within a 1 hour period

This might be obvious, but don’t keep your applicants waiting. To ensure that your applicant becomes a loyal customer, the faster you respond the better. Applicants appreciate efficiency and are more likely to pick an agency that responds to their questions the fastest.

  • Only WhatsApp your customers to have a conversation about the property. Do not use it for marketing purposes

Once you have communicated with an applicant ensure that you are not bombarding them with marketing material. Keep WhatsApp as a channel for communicating with the applicant to answer their questions and to help them find more properties.

  • Always get proper consent

Under GDPR regulations it is important to always take the consent of your applicant. If at any point they do not want to be contacted via any channel by your team, ensure that they are not.

At XChange, we empower Independent Agencies to grow their businesses by connecting them to premium instructions in their given area. We believe that independent agents provide a far better service than bigger agents and have the ability to close deals faster. Our team of advisors provide resources to grow your business and increase your revenue. To learn a bit more about what we do, reach out!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Government Announces Agents Forced to Close Will Pay No Business Rates

Xchange by houzen

The Government has issued a Press Release today to address the high-street businesses that have had to close down will now be exempt for business rates as well. This comes as part of the business rates holiday that is being introduced from 1st of April 2020. 

Estate agents, lettings agencies at have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21 and Local Authorities will be fully compensated. This comes as great news for our partners that have had to close during this time. 

This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Rishi Sunak commented:

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.”

“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.

“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”

Things to know:

  • Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will include the 100% discount
  • Any payments already made will be refunded by the local authority

Notes:

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
Govt Rescue package

Government Rescue Package for Businesses

Xchange by houzen

Many of you are asking us if your business is eligible for UK Government aid during the coronavirus outbreak. And how and when can you get the money. 

First update on the rescue package

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is set to go live tomorrow at noon. Under the Scheme, you can borrow up to £5m as a loan or other facilities (depending on the lender) with the first 12 month interest-free. Over 40 accredited providers will be offering facilities under the Scheme. There’s a good chance that your current bank does too.

Banks are likely to be overwhelmed with applications, so it’s best to prepare in advance all the documentation needed to apply.

Here’s a handy to-do list in case you are looking to apply

  1. Number 1 rule in these times: Cash is King. Focus over the next few weeks on creating a solid cash position for your team members and your business
  2. Check if your bank offers facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme;
  3. If it does, get in touch with your main contact at your current bank as they will likely prioritise existing clients;
  4. Find your full annual accounts for the last three years if you have them;
  5. Prepare management accounts for the current financial year (YTD 28 Feb 2020 P&L and 28 Feb 2020 Balance Sheet);
  6. Retrieve bank statements for the past 6 months;
  7. Make a list of Aged Debtor & Creditors;
  8. If you don’t have already, get an “accountant who is fast to execute”. There will be lot of applications. You need your application in front of them as soon as possible

In addition to the above, your bank might also ask for the following:

  • Current monthly fixed costs (wages, rent, pensions etc), future monthly fixed costs if these are being reduced and measures taken to reduce costs;
  • Number of employees including directors, both currently and in the short-medium term;
  • Statement Summary on how COVID-19 is affecting the businesses (sector specific would help);
  • Up to date ALIE (Asset, Liability, Income, Expenditure) – This is needed should the lender need to take any personal guarantees ;
  • Current business insurance schedule – Secondary mitigation should the Business Interruption section of the policy be activated and cover loss or earnings due to COVID-19;

In order to make the application process the quickest possible, you should check what kind of facilities your bank offers and how much will you need to borrow through it.

Of course, in order to plan repayment, you’ll need to work out how long the facility will support your business for and what are you going to spend the funding on. 

We are here to help, in case you need any assistance. Feel free to get in touch with us if you feel you need any help understanding the sometimes complex accountant jargon! Together, we can ride the troubled times!

Resources from the UK Government

XChange is committed to keeping our agency partners safe and fully informed about any Government funding and potential bank loans. If you have any questions please get in touch with xchange@houzen.co.uk

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »
COVID-19 virus picture | XChange

Property professionals, how are you preparing for the weeks ahead? Here are 6 things you can do!

Xchange by houzen
With corporate agencies taking a hit on the stock market this past week, many independent and boutique agencies are worried about what’s in store for them. How do you manage the risk and the change in environment? With consumer confidence down and a general air of fear and panic, it is best to stay focused on how we’re going to adapt to these changes.  Here’s a quick guide on how your agency can adapt to keep business running: 

  1. Don’t panic 
    • Refocus your activities instead.
    • Prioritise the steps needed to stay productive in the upcoming weeks. Ensure you have all the tools necessary to continue working and how you’re going to manage the change in environment.
    • Touch base with your landlords and make sure that they know you will keep generating demand for their property.
    • Make sure you have virtual tours on hand, for your most popular properties
  2. Test out the work from home scenario. 
    • How well do your employees perform? What barriers are they facing and work towards eliminating those barriers to improve productivity?
    • Create either WhatsApp group chats or utilise Slack to ensure employees can easily communicate with each other when needed.
    • Studies show that 77% of remote workers stated they were more productive when working remotely, and 30% stated that they accomplished more in less time than when they worked in-house

stats on working from home

3. Refocus your energy to digital 

    • Clients will still be looking for ways to purchase or rent homes, they always are. Consider different ways in which you can target your existing customer base. This could be via Facebook advertising or doing Instagram Live Sessions where you showcase a particular property.
    • Google Ads is a great tool to use to reach out to potential customers. Google Ads also provides £120 credit when you sign-up for the first time.

4. Make use of virtual tours

    • Allow your applicants to view a property virtually, eliminating the need to travel at all.
    • XChange properties have 3D tours and videos of the properties. Virtual viewings can be requested for applicants and agents who prefer to stay at home.

5. Talk to the customers you already have 

    • Engage with your existing landlords. Now it’s the time to have that long call, hear about any issues or ideas on how to improve your work – hear it from the best person, that is your own client!

6. Hustle

    • Now more than ever it is important to work fast to close deals before strict actions are taken by the government to tackle the virus.
    • Utilise XChange and our wide network of agents to find properties faster. With XChange, you can find a property and book a viewing 60% faster than traditional methods. This works the other way around as well!

 To survive, you have to prepare. At XChange, we want to ensure that our partner agents are equipped to manage the consequences of COVID-19 and we want to ensure that we can provide you with the resources to do so. Let’s get through this together. Contact us today and we’ll help you get sorted.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Find us in London

27 Finsbury Circus

London, EC2M 5NT

020 8064 1431

Xchange by houzen

Facebook


Twitter


Instagram

Read More »